New TWR Outreach Brings Gospel to Pygmy Villages

Posted in News

Picture4b“The Pygmies are just waiting for us to bring the Word of God,” Pastor Anath Ndoukou said as he prepared to bring gospel programs to villages in northern Gabon. “They cannot do this job alone.”

The fall 2021 trip undertaken by Ndoukou’s team to distribute 200 radio players was part of a brand-new outreach, the first TWR ministry to the Pygmies of the Central African rainforest. Known far and wide for their short stature and masterful knowledge of the forest, Pygmies today struggle against discrimination, social exclusion, loss of their traditional lifestyle and sometimes abuse.

“Abandoned and rejected by the national government and society in the areas of health and education, they need to hear that there is a loving God who cares for them and longs to make them part of his family,” said Ndoukou, TWR’s coordinator for Central Africa ministry. 

 One of several Pygmy ethnic groups across the region, the Baka are facing threats to their way of life as farming, logging and even conservation efforts reduce their access to the forests, according to humanitarian and media reports. A United Nations investigation found evidence of persecution by paramilitary-style “eco guards” originally deployed to help with conservation efforts. The guards reportedly treated the Baka as subhuman, humiliating and beating them and even burning camps.

Another group’s missionary efforts to evangelize the Baka had been largely unsuccessful. Living conditions can be harsh, and when those missionaries eventually left, evangelical pastor Edzang Celestin began visiting the village and witnessed to the chief, who gave his life to Christ. Celestin appealed for players containing gospel programs to distribute among the Baka, and Ndoukou and TWR responded.

The radio players were loaded with digital programs such as “The Story of Jesus,” “From Creation to Christ” and “Why Does Man Fear Death?” in Fang and French. Although the Baka’s first language is Mvai, many also speak Fang, the main local language, and French, Gabon’s official language. Ndoukou said he’s confident that TWR’s desire to have a studio in the region to translate and produce more programs for these and other ethnic languages will one day be realized.

Joining Ndoukou and Celestin on the trip to connect with the Baka and distribute radios were his wife, Charlène, leader of TWR Women of Hope ministry in the area; supporters of TWR’s ministry partner in Gabon; and local authorities. They visited multiple villages, first presenting a radio player to each chief and then giving out radios to other Baka families and praying with them.

One of the village chiefs said, “I thank the Lord for the good that he is doing. Right now, we have a radio, and through this radio, we will listen to the Word of God. When we listen to it, hearts will change.”

“These gifts come from God who thought of us to bless us through the visit of his servants,” a woman villager said. “I thank the Lord for those who brought us these radios so we can listen to the word of life that transforms hearts.”

Ndoukou said his vision for the Baka, as they learn from the Bible teaching on the digital players, is that many will become believers and then listening and prayer groups will be formed. Eventually, some of these groups would organize as churches, he hopes.

Ndoukou plans to return to the area to evaluate whether these early steps in the new ministry are having an impact in the communities. And Pastor Celestin will continue to minister among the Baka, providing spiritual follow-up.

“Today, these Pygmy people can listen to Christian broadcasts in their local languages,” Celestin said. “These gifts [of the radio players] have impacted their lives and brought a lot of change in their community because they are a neglected, despised and forgotten people. They have understood that God loves them. It is a gift that has marked their lives.”

Will you join us in praying for this promising outreach to the Baka?

  •  Pray that many of the Baka will listen closely to the Bible-based recordings and give their lives to Jesus Christ.
  • Pray that the recordings and in-person ministry will have a growing impact on the lives of Baka and then through them on people of the surrounding area.
  • Ask the Lord to move in this society to address the problems of alienation, discrimination and even persecution facing the Baka Pygmies.
  • The Gabon area in which the Baka live is recognized as a seat of witchcraft in Gabon. Pray that the light of the Holy Spirit will shine brightly through the lives of new Baka believers and that the darkness will retreat before the power of God.